Juggling Bats 101

So, my juggle trainer showed me the basics of the bat-shaped juggle things.

Give me a month, I’ll be juggling three at a time!

Follow my blog for juggling updates!

Goodbye, S

I said goodbye to my friend a few days ago. Not just my friend, my long-distance best friend. The type of friend who would be gone for months but once they’re back, it’s like no time had passed.

Let’s be real here, no one likes to say goodbye.

Let’s go back to the last time I saw her–let’s just call her S to keep it simple.

I think I had made it perfectly clear over the past few months just how infatuated I was with S. I even confessed my love of S to my boyfriend, Mr Carter.

Jealousy wasn’t an issue, not to my knowledge anyway.

When S comes to town, my world stops. And I can’t help but be dramatic when I talk about her.

Mr Carter took me on a trip to celebrate S.

See? No jealousy at all.

Honestly, it was the first time I had really seen S this year. To say I was excited would be completely underrated–I was like Sonic the Hedgehog after someone pressed the <down> and <A> buttons a few times.

Road trip with Mr Carter
Driving to Crystal Springs Water Park, NJ

We made it to the water park in record time for Labor Day. I guess I felt the world would be as excited as I was, how silly right?

The line seemed more congested than the entire NJ Turnpike had been that day. I had a mission, I didn’t get frustrated.

I waited, patiently.

The time had come. It was going to be an epic moment. I stuffed our shoes in the locker and we were off.

Finally. I inhaled the warm sun and exhaled the past months of endless studying, and stressing over accounting tests. I mean, damn, S was finally before me.

The day was perfect. Me, my man, and my best friend who would be leaving shortly.

We swam, we ate, we laughed, we had the time of our lives. Until I heard that awful announcement:

“Attention all Crystal Springs guests–the time is now, 6:30. The park will be closing at 7:00 for the last time of the year.”

By this time, we were floating along the lazy river. We had gotten lost in the endless twists and turns. I watched as the workers deflated the plastic rings and couldn’t help but cry. I didn’t expect the day to end so suddenly. Luckily the water was there to catch my tears.

It was over.

We left the park.

We left S.

I kept the key to the locker as a souvenir of my best friend. I will miss you, Summer. It’s always a beautiful time when you come visit.

Until next time,

SamWriteNow & Mr Carter

Wisdom & Wardrobe

Life is like shopping for the perfect outfit.

We demand knowledge every second from the moment we make our debut into the world—begging to learn about life and what it all means. Think about it, we are constantly learning—sometimes forcefully—sometimes by accident. It never stops.

But what if life only stops once we have made it to our personal learning limit?

Maybe once we feel we did our best, we can return home so another cycle can begin. Maybe we get second, third, and fourth chances to gain all the knowledge in the world. Maybe we are all just looking for what we missed in the past lives we’ve held like running through the clearance rack for that one shirt that would complete our outfit. And like our best outfit, that one missing piece is hard to find!

Life is a lot like shopping. If life is the shopping experience, the lessons learned are the accessories.

We are constantly trying to show off what we have, what we know, and all we want is for someone to notice us.

We are born naked, completely void of knowledge or life lessons. We squirm around in a panic begging for something, anything. And what do we get? Swaddled with a nursing blanket and placed on our momma’s chest. We lay listening to her soothing heartbeat, the one we grew beside for nine months, and it puts us back at ease.

First life lesson: Mommy will always keep you safe.

Accessory: Blanket

Our childhood is about exploring the world around our crib. We hear things like “No!” or “Don’t touch!” We run and jump and do things we never thought possible, like ride a bike, climb a tree, or even jump from the top step of the staircase. We don’t understand why we are told “no,” so we continue, until it is way too late and we get a booboo.

Life lesson: Take baby steps.

Accessory: Shoes.

Something happens around puberty where we lose our shit! Our hormonal imbalance transforms us into anxious pre-teens with deep insecurities. Suddenly, joking around with the boys isn’t funny anymore and feelings get brutalized after a joke goes too far. Being a “friend” is hurtful when you want the person to “like you” like you. Underwear is upgraded from pampers to actual panties or briefs and bras. The expression is formed during these years: “Put your big girl/boy draws on and grow up!”

Life lesson: Don’t be so sensitive.

Accessory: Underwear.

We did it, we made it to our twenties. By now, we should’ve had at least ONE heartbreak. Our idiot selves are so clueless. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and wonder why we get them stolen and returned with bruises. We throw our money around like nothing and basically don’t give a shit about anything other than having fun. The concept of a bad investment and losing it all comes to mind. We lose our income to unnecessary wants and it feels like we are losing our shirts too.

Life lesson: Money can’t buy happiness.

Accessory: Shirt.

And just like that, our thirties have arrived. We still think we can chug that beer and bounce back the next day. We have real deal responsibilities now. Bills, perhaps a family, a steady job and did I mention BILLS? Everything is different, more serious and quite frankly, scary! We are more responsible now. Our silly spending habits have turned to strict savings plans. We’re adults now. Those bills that haunted our twenties will be paid. Our reckless ways have come to an end–it’s time to put on some pants and grow up.

Life lesson: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

Accessory: Pants.

Your forties are meant to celebrate successes. By this time, that uncomfortable feeling of being unsure should’ve evaporated and left a pretty self-aware individual. Relax, the worst is over. Now it’s time to enjoy all we have worked for. Take a vacation and soak up the sun. We’ve earned it!

Life lesson: Hard work and dedication pays off in the long run.

Accessory: Sunglasses.

By our fifties, we might start to feel like a change is needed. Maybe home life is stagnant, or work is redundant, either way we are about to go crazy! Forget the hormonal changes with women and the midlife crisis men go through, it’s more than that—it’s the simple fact that we have lived through enough decades to know that there must be more to life than the mundane work, home, eat, sleep routine. We’re starting to think about our childhood and our twenties. Understand that there is no “rule book” for life and we don’t have to feel stuck. The first change that usually takes place is with our hair: dye it, cut it, whichever, it will be a HUGE difference from the simple look we’ve had for years. SNIP-SNIP!

Life lesson: Change is often a good thing.

Accessory: Hairstyle.

Retirement is approaching my sixty-year-olds! Our children are grown, the house might be paid off, and our debt should be close to zero. It’s the first time we can actually exhale and not worry about anything. Sounds scary enough, but never you mind. This is a start to a beautiful chapter of self-awareness. Can we handle what life has to offer in its purest form? When we aren’t working, what will we do? Take up a fun hobby or explore the world! Ditch the doubt and buy a backpack.

Life lesson: Don’t be afraid to explore and discover new things.

Accessory: Backpack.

When we get to our seventies, things take a wicked turn. We’ve spent our lives helping others, taking care of our families, even helping some friends, and now it’s time for us to accept the help of others. The things we used to do with ease have been quite burdensome and we have to be willing to ask for assistance. And just like the outfit we have put together thus far, it may also need some help. The quickest way to doll up an outfit is to add some sparkle.

Life lesson: Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Accessory: Jewelry.

The big eight-zero is a time for reflection. Yes, we spend a lot of time looking at ourselves in the mirror. Don’t you always check to see if your outfit is on point? Finishing touches are what the outfit needs right now. We’ve learned many lessons but perhaps a few sweeps of some blush may brighten up the ensemble. Or perhaps get those nails manicured–it’s not just for women!

Life lesson: It’s never too late to learn a thing or two.

Accessory: Makeup.

Once again, our nineties are spent looking back at our past. What we did, what we didn’t get to do, and what we still want to do. By now, we shouldn’t have any regrets. If it didn’t happen, do it! If we made mistakes along the way, fix them! It is our responsibility to protect ourselves from disappointment. We must be ready for any consequences.

Life lesson: Hold yourself accountable for the choices you make.

Accessory: Jacket.

One hundred years of growth and wisdom. Our outfit is just about ready to show off. I left a very important life lesson to complete the ensemble. Time goes by whether or not we’re doing something. An hour feels like a minute and a decade feels like a day. Make sure to live in the moment. Don’t think about the time, that’s what clocks are for.

Life lesson: Live in the moment.

Accessory: Watch.

It’s okay if your outfit isn’t what you thought it would be. It’s okay if your pants don’t match your shirt.

Own the lessons you’ve learned thus far.

Flaunt the outfit you put together!

The Fitting Room

I had no intentions of walking into that ratchet store. Even in my high school years it was quite the struggle to slip their brand’s dungarees up and over my fat hips. I must admit, I was surprisingly optimistic that afternoon; it’s probably what motivated me to strut inside that store. With rose gold Beats covering my ears, I was able to walk past the obnoxious chatter of knucklehead kids running around.

I used to be a mall rat, hanging out in the three wings with my other ratty friends, with nothing better to do after school–growing up, it was the only free thing to do on the island. Well now as an adult, I learned to keep my music as a distraction.

I had just picked up some bourbon chicken and mac-n-cheese from my favorite Cajun spot in the food court when I came across the store. I thought back to the insane amount of bomber jackets I had bought from there when I was in high school. I must have had every color imaginable to match my outfits perfectly. I stood by the escalator and grew curious–what does it look like now? With my weight changing over the years, I wondered if their jeans had an attitude adjustment and maybe we could finally be friends.

The store was overcrowded just as I had remembered: circular clothes racks squeezed up against each other, jumbo sized displays barely visible between the clutter, and customers attempting to slide through the mess. A young guy tried to sell me on a pair of mustard ripped jeans but my focus was on the overly patterned black and white ones immediately to the right of them. (I missed out on this trend because of my obscene thighs.)

I smiled politely when he offered me the size 4’s, laughed a little harder when he remained serious, and finally began schlepping through the stack for a size 13 or 15. I settled on trying the 11’s. He asked to hold my Cajun food while I went to the fitting room and I giggled–Like I was really going to set up dinner on the wooden bench behind barnyard doors.

I handed over the plastic bag and scurried to my fitting room.

My reflection smiled back as I ripped my sweatpants off. Eventually, I found the courage to slide one leg into the 11’s and grew far too excited when the pants kept sliding up without interruption. Okay, I’ll say it, I was excessively thrilled, to say the least. There I was, one leg in, my slight gut exposed, laughing at the stunned look across my face, and I couldn’t help but think about how weird it would have been to have the lingering scent of bourbon chicken in the tiny room during my euphoric moment.

It wasn’t until I slipped my other leg inside the dark denim that my cheerful demeanor had evaporated. For once, it wasn’t my problematic thick thighs holding me back from popular fashion, it was my big butt.

I stood there, unaccomplished and frazzled, remembering back to my mother’s life lesson: the cowboy move. It’s when you grab at the back belt loops and pull with every ounce of will, while wiggling uncontrollably with a certain rhythm like you’re preparing to rope-up some cattle. It’s pretty effective when the pants are your size. On this particular day, in the tiny fitting room, the odds were not in my favor. I heard a sharp POP and just like that the magic escaped.

To say I panicked would be an understatement. I thought quickly, perhaps too quickly, and peeled them off before throwing my sweats on. I folded them in a way that my wardrobe malfunction wasn’t noticeable and collected what was left of my dignity before opening the door. I found the stack of surviving pants and stuffed my tortured jeans between them. Hoping to make an easy escape, I maneuvered toward the front.

My food!

I turned back, meeting the face of the sales guy. Panic bounced throughout my body and I had to explain how they didn’t fit. I asked for my Cajun food, he asked me to try on a different pair, we went back and forth a few times, I took my lunch and fled for the escalator. There was no way my bulky bottom was going to relive that moment again.

Lesson: The odds were still completely against me.

June 21, 2001

I left school in the beginning of eighth period; we had a sub and I wasn’t about to spend any more time with the punks who occupied my junior high school. I was sick of being picked on for not wearing the right sneakers or how my wild locks pushed my hair-tie to its absolute limit. I had just wanted to leave an hour early—you know, to beat the afterschool rush of bullies who had the same walk home as I did.

I remember escaping the oversized metal doors and walking out toward Castleton Avenue. I hurried past the line of yellow buses that were waiting for the herd of animals to stampede behind me.

Once at the top of the slight hill, I hesitated momentarily. Did I really just cut school? Was it a big deal? I went to the majority of those pest-infested classes, and what was I really going to learn with a sub who would surely be disrespected for the next forty minutes?

My mind kept racing and I remember thinking about the pizzeria across the street—being able to run in without the embarrassment of ordering a grease-soaked cheesy slice with a Snapple Iced Tea. I knew I had to move fast, I was sure to stick out on the avenue if I contemplated any longer.

Pizza it was.

I ran haphazardly at the cross-walk.

The other side of the street was much different. In that quick switch of scenery, I was removed from the negative energy associated with that school and brought to the sultry scent of freedom and mozzarella cheese.

I took a few steps in the direction of the quiet pizzeria and let out a sigh. That place would be filled with loudmouth junior high-schoolers in a matter of minutes, all yelling out their orders at the top of their lungs, trying to shout over the other punk kids while plotting against the innocent ones.

I felt fortunate to have been able to see my favorite pizzeria in such a state of magnificence. It was untouched and glorious as it sat waiting for me to donate my three dollars at the counter.

I couldn’t even make it to the door.

My stupid imagination had stolen three minutes.

Three minutes which would’ve left me feeling full and satisfied. Full satisfied and free. I imagine I could’ve made it home and had another few hours to myself. Hours without being miserable. Maybe, just maybe, I would have enjoyed my rebellious break from my typical goody-two-shoe ways. Maybe I should’ve just stayed in class and experienced the hell like any other afternoon.

Anything was better than what was about to happen.

I had recognized the car pull up to the light at the intersection where my feet were somehow glued. I guess I couldn’t move because it was my father and my brother staring at me.

Every curse rushed through my head and I felt the wave of disappointment hit me like I sort of wish that car would have done.

What the hell were they going to say to me?

How long would I be punished? Was I going to survive this stupid choice I had made, a week before I would turn thirteen? And more importantly, where the hell were they going anyway?

It all had happened so fast and I wished I had just stayed in school. I wasn’t ready to hear it. I wasn’t ready for any of it. The bullying I survived on a daily basis would’ve been fine enough.

The voice radiated from the window, “Get in,” and I just about fainted.

I jumped in with my mouth shut and hoped the yelling wouldn’t be too loud. The light changed and we sped off. I didn’t know what shortcut they were taking but it was the complete opposite of our house.

“Where are we going?” I finally built up the nerve to ask. Even the radio was off.

Behind the immense silence I heard a throaty fragment of a sentence, “Mama and Papa’s house.”

It didn’t make sense. It was such a random time to go there. And if that were true, then where was my mother? And why was my dad driving like a lunatic? And why was he even driving my brother’s car? Nothing made sense. And when was I going to get it for skipping class?

My head was spinning and I kept staring from the backseat window, watching as the houses along Castleton Avenue appeared like blobs of paint splashed onto a canvas.

Every noise was amplified against the completely muted car—the loud sirens blaring around us, the car horns demanding attention, the tires screeching against the road—it all seemed too intense. My delicate ears were begging for the noises to stop, or for the unspoken words to be said within that tiny car.

We kept driving.

The ten minute drive to their house seemed to take hours, even with the car taking corners like we were in Grand Theft Auto.

Finally, my dad pulled over and before he could even put the car in park, I was outside at the gate.

This part gets blurry but I remember someone saying words that weren’t registering with me. I wish I could remember that day clearer.

It always gets fuzzy at that moment: just as I get to the end of the long walkway—standing by the bricked wall, the one that held up their mailbox, the one I would climb like I was Spiderman on the edge of a building trying to save someone from the tippy-top.

“Papa had a massive heart attack,” is all I can remember from standing there at the gate.

Maybe my father told me. Maybe my brother was the one who hovered over me to break the horrifying news. He was the one to tell me about my parents splitting up, and to think of it, he told me in that same car.

It’s weird how we remember heavy moments in sporadic flashes. I know I ran up that long walkway. I know I didn’t see their dog, Bo, run up to me. I know I didn’t see the hammock by the kitchen door. My mother was there but I don’t remember where she was. I can picture my grandmother by the piano in the dining room. But that’s it.

I miss my Papa everyday.

Today makes seventeen years since he left us. It’s not easy, I never got to ask him the questions I have as an adult. We never got to hold those deep coming of age conversations. The strongest memory besides this one was watching My Girl in the living room with him. I can still hear the squeak of his chair when he got up or sat down.

RIP to an amazing grandfather who I know is by my side everyday. I hope I make you proud! 😘